Sunday, September 30, 2007

Pioneering a New Future

Church was, as usual lately, ridiculously unspiritual, cold, callous, demeaning, and unpleasant. Two weeks ago I didn't go to church. On purpose. Actually I went, but left after 10 mins. Elder's quorum is first, and that's the worst part.

What was good and spiritual was some experiences I had last night and this morning. My spirituality is based in God, not in a church. I started a fast with a desperate prayer that was answered by the most beautiful feelings of divine love- I felt God tell me that he was proud of me. Then during the sacrament, I felt strong feelings of divine acceptance as I prayed. I have finally allowed myself to feel accepted by God. It's not that He didn't accept me before, it's that I didn't allow myself to feel it.

I confronted my Bishop and told him why Church was so challenging for me. His answer shocked me. He said the Church (referring to the people and organization, not doctrine or principle) needed to change and was changing, but that it would take time. He told me I was a pioneer. Like the sacrifices of the Mormon pioneers who crossed the plains and the sacrifices of black Mormons who faithfully waited for the Church to extend priesthood offices to them, my suffering will allow future people to live healthy lives.

On a slightly different note, I just watched Batman Begins. Perhaps my "coming out" to four good friends this week has been messing with my mind, but I swear there was a great scene in the movie. After saving her life again, Batman- Bruce- "comes out" to Rachael when he echoes a comment she had previously made. "It's not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me." It's an interesting sentiment. I'm not sure I agree, but I kinda do.

If my actions define me, then I am a great Mormon. It's who I am underneath that is different from what others perceive. Is that wrong? Is that dishonest? Is that weakness? Who knows.


MoHoHawaii said...

I agree with your bishop. Change in the church, if you view it historically, is largely reactive. Would blacks have the priesthood without the civil rights movement that occurred in more broadly in society in the decades that preceded the revelation? Would the language of the endowment have been changed to show more gender equality without the larger social changes in the role of women? Would polygamy still be with us if the church had not been under tremendous external pressure to abolish it?

I am one of those who is hoping for changes in the church within my lifetime with respect to homosexuality. People like you are central to this dream. Your generation can be open about this in a way that was impossible for mine.

Remus said...

wow, i felt the same way at church this morning. Mormons may not accept me, but God hasn't abandoned me. At least not yet. And when before when I distanced myself from God, it was my fault that I didn't feel his presence in my life.

GeckoMan said...

I also agree with your bishop; you do have a faithful work to do.

Hopefully the loss of wonderful and bright and talented young men and women with an independent SGA streak will be stemmed in the church. We need all your unique perspectives and compassion and voices to make a difference in the mass of unaware saints in the church. I think the general church membership is farther behind than our leaders considering policy.

I also want to comment on your statement/question, "It's who I am underneath that is different from what others perceive. Is that wrong? Is that dishonest? Is that weakness?"

Think of your family and close friends. Are you so sure they don't already know and love what is 'underneath'? Maybe not in the psuedo-defining context of SSA, but I would say you aren't hiding your true self from those who really know you. When you choose to 'come out' to them, I bet you'll be saying, "I haven't really changed, I'm still me."

You have a right to not disclose whatever you wish about your being. Transparency is not the same as honesty. You can be true and honest and integrated and private--you get to choose your path of evolution that may be in, partly in, or out of the closet. Whatever your choice, there are downstream consequences that you will be responsible for through-out your relationships that have nothing to do with SSA.